US retail sales

December retail sales extended November’s decline (see chart below). According to the US Census Bureau, “Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for December 2022, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $677.1 billion, down 1.1 percent (±0.5 percent) from the previous month.” But as the chart demonstrates, retail sales remain almost one-fifth higher than pre-pandemic patterns. December sales of appliances and electronics were lower than last year. Furniture, sporting goods, and automobile sales were comparatively slow. Not adjusted for inflation, grocery sales were slightly up. Year-end holiday celebrations supported continued spending on eating and drinking away from home. (More and more.) Given the historically strong — but softening — demand, the very slightly improved inventories to sales ratio suggests how supply chains are still less robust than pre-pandemic.